MULTAN - Mango, the king of fruit, suffered higher temperatures last month and was still struggling to recover from resultant fruit shedding, triggering apprehensions of lower production among farmers.

Abdul Ghaffar Grewal, head of Mango Research Station, Shujabad, told APP that temperature remained unexpectedly higher last month from April 10 to 21 that caused fruit shedding at a time when fruit size was smaller and needed conducive weather conditions for further growth. He informed that due to the sudden climatic change nearly 30 percent mango trees of "Summar Bahisht" and 10 percent of "Chaunsa" varieties, had affected from high temperatures.

The fruit could not bear the intensity of weather and farmers were still feeling its impact in the form of fruit dropping but at a comparatively lower rate. Mango Research Institute (MRI) Director Dr Hameedullah said that higher temperatures coupled with successive dust storms received in Multan, did damage the mango badly. Farmers have suffered losses, he added.

Dr Hameedullah disclosed that MRI has recently initiated damage assessment survey in the mango belt of South Punjab. He said that most of the damage was borne by Multan mango farmers. Multan received four dust storms during first fortnight of May and the most severe of them was the one received on May 14 last having a velocity of 65 nautical miles per hour or 120 kilometres per hour. Dust storms were witnessed on May 8, May 10 and May 12 but their intensity was lower than May 14 dust storm.

Dr Hameedullah said that storms accelerated the fruit dropping. A progressive farmer and Mango Growers Association (MGA) Multan President Major (R) Tariq termed the losses huge and demanded of the government to provide relief to the mango farmers in the form of waiver in water rate and other taxes. He claimed that crop suffered damage by 60 percent in the region.

Another farmer Laiq Ahmad Sheikhana said that mango crop was suffering some problem this year and they were slashing down their production estimates. Abdul Ghaffar Grewal said that mango crop gave good production last year, however, this year, flowering was far less than previous year, meaning thereby the problem existed well before the unexpected hot weather conditions and dust storms started haunting the farmers.